This is the view of the company's managing director Fred Hess, who noted in PanAust's quarterly report ending on June 30 that the submission of the special mining lease application gave the company a good platform to secure support for major shared-use infrastructure. This SML would not only benefit PanAust, but also the people of the Sandaun and East Sepik provinces, over which the project straddles.
"An environmental impact assessment is being prepared for the project and is scheduled for submission in the December quarter 2016. PanAust is an internationally recognised leader in environmental management and sustainability.
"Our well-established, proven group standards and operational environmental performance in similar conditions in Laos will guide environmental management programs at Frieda River," Hess said.
Frieda River represents one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world. The Horse-Ivaal-Trukai, Ekwai and Koki (HITEK) global mineral resource is estimated at more than 2.7 billion tonnes of mineralisation at an average grade of 0.42% copper and 0.23 grams per tonne gold and contains about 12Mt of copper and 19Moz gold.
PanAust said it considered that the optimum approach to the project was by a multi-staged development.
The feasibility study contemplates an initial project based on the HITEK copper-gold porphyry deposits and comprises a large-scale, open-pit mining operation that feeds ore to a conventional process plant nominally rated at 40Mtpa.
Average annual production of metal in concentrate is 175,000t copper and 250,000oz gold over the initial mine life, estimated at 17 years.
"At the Frieda River project site, work progressed throughout the June quarter on the construction of an exploration access track (EAT). The EAT will improve access and flexibility in logistics to the main camp site from both the Frieda River and the existing airstrip," Hess said, adding that there was close and ongoing engagement with the government of Papua New Guinea, provincial administrations in Sandaun and East Sepik provinces, as well as with host communities which continued to demonstrate strong and broad support for the project.